Wasted Words: Orthodoxy

Orthodoxy has become a dirty word.  It is treated as a synonym for “narrow,” “unthinking,” “uncharitable,” “mean-spirited,” “backward,” and “benighted.”

But at root, orthodoxy is not about labeling things right for the sake of labeling them — much less labeling other things “wrong.”

It’s about accountability to something and — even more importantly Someone beyond us.

A wooden orthodoxy that needs “right belief” as a substitute for that Someone is misguided.  But a spiritual orientation that rejects every kind of accountability other than one of its own making is no less misguided.

The argument between both has made it difficult for us to listen.  When we are polarized by the debate and inclined to take sides it is almost impossible to hear the most important Voice of all.

About Frederick Schmidt

The Reverend Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt, Jr. holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Rueben Job Institute for Spiritual Formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and consulting editor at Church Publishing in New York. He is the author of numerous published articles and reviews, as well as several books: A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009), and The Dave Test (Abingdon, 2013). He and his wife, Natalie (who is also an academic and an Episcopal priest), live in Highland Park, Illinois, with their Gordon Setter, Hilda of Whitby. They have four children and four grandchildren: Henry, Addie, Heidi, and Sophie.


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